Buskers are way more important than just being a good show. They are important “placemaking” elements too. Let me explain.

Placemaking is urban planning, design and management of public spaces to promote health, happiness and well being. You can think of it as “urbanism for communities”. This is not a new concept, but as cities have grown and become more profitable, the people with the money and power to enact change have forgotten that cities aren’t just about shops and public transport, they’re about people. They’re about YOU.

When viewed through this lens, buskers are the perfect placemaking “tool”. They’re inexpensive, they don’t require extra infrastructure, they have self-contained shows, they’re already nearby and they add a local flavour to the city. And they’re hugely popular with tourists.

Buskers create crowds, they get strangers to make eye contact, they create shared cultural experiences, they create safe spaces, they hit so many of the goals on UN Habitat’s urban prosperity index.

Think about your city. Does it have giant bronze sculptures that cost millions to install? Has your city forked out a fortune on rejuvenating parks and waterfronts that are left largely unused?

If they were intent on spending money, why didn’t they instead just pay street performers for a fraction of the cost?

Not sure of the benefits? Look at Covent Garden, Pier 39, Pike Place Market, Circular Quay, the Edinburgh Fringe Festival and all the other intensely popular busking hotspots that bring in tourists by the millions.

Buskers are hardworking professionals who have been placemaking for millennia. They are an incredible resource for cities to “use”. They require little encouragement. And all we ask is that they get your respect.

And you thought you were just watching a show, right?